Condusiv Technologies Blog

Condusiv Technologies Blog

Blogging @Condusiv

The Condusiv blog shares insight into the issues surrounding system and application performance—and how I/O optimization software is breaking new ground in solving those issues.

Ransomware Protection Tips

by Gary Quan 7. October 2019 05:47

You hope that your systems never get attacked by Ransomware, but in case you do, you want to be prepared. One of the best ways to recover from such a malicious attack is to ensure you keep good and recent backups of your systems. But even with that, you can only recover back to the last known good backup. What about the files worked on since that last good backup? To fully recover from a Ransomware attack, you want those files recovered too. This is where Undelete® instant file recovery software can help, when set up properly. 

Undelete can provide a further level of recovery with its versioning and deleted file protection 

Undelete’s versioning capability can keep copies of files worked on since that last backup, plus any files created and deleted since that last backup.  This can help you recover new or updated files since the last backup completed. This latter feature of capturing deleted files can be extremely beneficial as there are some variants of Ransomware that copy the original files to an encrypted form, then delete the original file. In these cases, many of the deleted original files may be in Undelete Recovery Bin and available for recovery.  

But what about protecting the Undelete Recovery Bin from the Ransomware attack?

This is where the Common Recovery Bin feature can help.  By default, Undelete creates a Recovery Bin folder on each volume that it is protecting. All the versioned and deleted files from each volume are stored in the Recovery Bin folder on the respective volumes. With the Common Recovery Bin feature, you can select a single location on a different volume that will contain all of the versioned and deleted files from all of your protected volumes.  For example, you may want to set up a dedicated X: volume that contains the Recovery Bin files from all of the protected volumes. So, even if your main system volumes get affected by Ransomware, these other volumes may remain safe.  This is not a fail-safe protection against Ransomware, but just another deterrent against these Recovery Bin files getting infected. 

 

 

Athough you may have purchased or tried Undelete for its file recovery features for accidental user file deletions from local or network shares, it can also provide added recovery benefits from malicious attacks.

If you need additional Undelete licenses, you can contact your account manager or buy instantly online.

You can also download a free 30-day trial of Undelete.

Learn more about Undelete from this series of videos.

Caching Is King

by Gary Quan 29. July 2019 06:43

Caching technology has been around for quite some time, so why is Condusiv’s patented IntelliMemory® caching so unique that it outperforms other caching technology and has been licensed by other top OEM PC and Storage vendors? There are a few innovations that make it stand above the others. 

The first innovation is the technology to determine what data to put and keep in cache for the best performance gains on each system. Simple caching methods place recently read-in data into the cache with the hopes that this data will be read again so it can be satisfied from cache. Ok, but far from efficient and optimal. IntelliMemory takes a more heuristic approach using two main factors. One, in the background, it is determining what data is getting read most often to ensure a high cache hit rate and two, using analytics, IntelliMemory knows that certain data patterns will provide better performance gains than others. Combining these two factors, IntelliMemory will use your valuable memory resources to get the optimal caching performance gains for each individual system. 

Another important innovation is the dynamic determination of how much of the system’s valuable memory resource to use. Unlike some caching technologies that require you to allocate a specific amount of memory for caching, IntelliMemory will automatically use just what is available and not being used by other system and user processes.   And if any system or user processes need  the memory, IntelliMemory dynamically gives it back so there is never a memory contention issue.  In fact, IntelliMemory always leaves a buffer of memory available, at least 1.5 GB at a minimum. For example, if there is 4GB available memory in the system, IntelliMemory will use at most 2.5GB of this and will dynamically release it if any other processes need it, then use it again when it becomes available.  That’s one reason we trademarked the phrase Set It and Forget It® 

Developments like these put IntelliMemory caching above all others.  That’s why, when combined with our patented IntelliWrite® technology, we’ve helped millions of customers achieve 30-50% or more performance gains on their Windows systems.  Frankly, some people think it’s magic, but if you’ll pardon my assertion, it’s really just innovative thinking.

Undelete 11 coming soon – User Feedback Drives New Features

by Gary Quan 4. January 2019 09:38

Soon to be released is a new major version of Undelete. I have been able to preview a pre-release version of this new Undelete and wanted to share the new enhancements. These changes were driven from current Undelete customer feedback looking for further improvement of the product. In a later blog, I will go into each new feature in more detail, but for now, I just wanted to briefly list some of these new features that will be soon available to you.

Ø  New User Interface: Undelete now has a familiar File Explorer-like interface that is easy to navigate, which makes it easy to find and recover deleted files.

o   The interface is also much faster and more responsive than before.

o   A Drag and Drop feature has been added to easily recover local files from the Undelete Recovery Bin.

 

Ø  Expanded File version protection: In previous Undelete editions, the popular ‘Versioning’ feature was limited to just Microsoft Office files. This versioning protection has been expanded to other file types.  This means that if you accidently save a new version of a file with incorrect changes, Undelete can help you go back to the previous version to recover from those unwanted changes.

Ø  Enhance Search Wizard: Expanded search capabilities have been added to help find the user’s deleted files in instances where the user cannot recall the name of the file or where it was located. This includes wild card names search capabilities, plus deleted date ranges, plus who deleted the file.

Ø  Inclusion List: For those users who only want specific deleted folders, file names, or file types to be protected, they can now specify them with this inclusion list capability.

Ø  Cloud Support: The Common Recovery Bin can now be stored or located in the cloud using OneDrive and other hosting capabilities. This has several benefits, including saving space on your local storage, plus protecting these recovery files from security threats like ransomware.

 I look forward to our customers using this new and improved release of Undelete.

Tags:

Data Protection | Cloud | Data Recovery | General | Undelete

Industry-first FAL Remediation and Improved Performance for MEDITECH

by Gary Quan 6. November 2018 03:19

When someone mentions heavy fragmentation on a Windows NTFS Volume, the first thing that usually comes to mind is performance degradation. While performance degradation is certainly bad, what’s worse is application failure when the application gets this error.

 

Windows Error - "The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation“

 

That is exactly what happens in severely fragmented environments. These are show-stoppers that can stop a business in its tracks until the problem is remediated. We have had users report this issue to us on SQL databases, Exchange server databases, and cases involving MEDITECH EHR systems.

In fact, because of this issue, MEDITECH requires all 5x and 6x customers to address this issue and has endorsed both Condusiv® Technologies’ V-locity® and Diskeeper® I/O reduction software for “...their ability to reduce disk fragmentation and eliminate File Attribute List (FAL) saturation. Because of their design and feature set, we have also observed they accelerate application performance in a measurable way,” said Mike Belkner, Associate VP, Technology, MEDITECH.

Some refer to this extreme fragmentation problem as the “FAL Size Issue” and here is why. In the Windows NTFS file system, as files grow in size and complexity (i.e., more and more fragmented data), they can be assigned additional metadata structures. One of these metadata structures is called the File Attribute List (FAL). The FAL structure can point to different types of file attributes, such as security attributes or standard information such as creation and modification dates and, most importantly, the actual data contained within the file. In the extremely fragmented file case, the FAL will keep track of where all the fragmented data is for the file. The FAL actually contains pointers indicating the location of the file data (fragments) on the volume. As more fragments accumulate in a file, more pointers to the fragmented data are required, which in turn increases the size of the FAL. Herein lies the problem: the FAL size has an upper limitation size of 256KB. When that limit is reached, no more pointers can be added, which means NO more data can be added to the data file. And, if it is a folder file, NO more files can be added under that folder file. Applications using these files stop in their tracks, not what users want, especially in EHR systems.

If a FAL reaches the size limitation, the only resolution was to bring the volume offline, which can mean bringing the system down, then copying the file to a different location (a different volume is recommended), deleting or renaming the original file, making sure there is sufficient contiguous free space on the original volume, rebooting the system to reset the free space cache, then copying the file back. This is not a quick cycle, and if that file is large in size, this process can take hours to complete, which means the system will remain offline for hours while attempting to resolve.

You would think that the logical solution would be – why not just defragment those files? The problem is that traditional defragmentation utilities can cause the FAL size to grow. While it can decrease the number of pointers, it will not decrease the FAL size. In fact, due to limitations within the file system, traditional methods of defragmenting files cause the FAL size to grow even larger, making the problem worse even though you are attempting to remediate it. This is true with all other defragmenters, including the built-in defragmenter that comes with Windows. So what can be done about it?

The Solution

Condusiv Technologies has introduced a new technology to address this FAL size issue that is unique only to the latest V-locity® and Diskeeper® product lineup. This new technology called MediWrite™ contains features to help suppress this issue from occurring in the first place, give sufficient warning if it is or has occurred, plus tools to quickly and efficiently reducing the FAL size offline. It includes the following:

Unique FAL handling: As indicated above, traditional methods of defragmentation can cause the

FAL size to grow even further. MediWrite will detect when files are having FAL size issues and will use an exclusive method of defragmentation that helps stem the FAL growth. An industry first!

It will also automatically determine how often to process these files according to their FAL size severity.

Enhanced Free space consolidation engine: One indirect cause of FAL size growth is the extreme free space fragmentation found in these cases. A new Free Space method has been developed to handle these extreme cases.

Unique FAL growth prevention: Along with MediWrite, V-locity and Diskeeper contain another very important technology called IntelliWrite® which automatically prevents new fragmentation from occurring. By preventing fragmentation from occurring, IntelliWrite minimizes any further FAL size growth issues.

Unique Offline FAL Consolidation tools: The above technologies help stop the FAL size from growing any larger, but due to File System restrictions, it cannot shrink or reduce the FAL size online. To do this, Condusiv developed proprietary offline tools that will reduce the FAL-IN-USE size in minutes.  This is extremely helpful for companies that already have a file FAL size issue before installing our software. With these tools, the user can reduce the FAL-IN-USE size back down to 100kb, 50kb, or smaller and feel completely safe from the maximum FAL size limits. The reduction process itself takes less than 5 minutes. This means that the system will only need to be taken offline for minutes which is much better than all the hours needed with the current Windows copy method.

FAL size Alerts: MediWrite will dynamically scan the volumes for any FAL sizes that have reached a certain limit (the default is a conservative 50% of the maximum size) and will create an Alert indicating this has occurred. The Alert will also be recorded in the Windows Event log, plus the user has the option to get notified by email when this occurrence happens.

 

For information, case studies, white papers and more, visit  http://www.condusiv.com/solutions/meditech-solutions/

Which Processes are Using All of My System Resources?

by Gary Quan 17. July 2018 05:50

Over time as more files and applications are added to your system, you notice that performance has degraded, and you want to find out what is causing it. A good starting point is to see how the system resources are being used and which processes and/or files are using them.

Both Diskeeper® and SSDkeeper® contain a lesser known feature to assist you on this. It is called the System Monitoring Report which can show you how the CPU and I/O resources are being utilized, then digging down a bit deeper, which processes or files are using them.

Under Reports on the Main Menu, the System Monitoring Report provides you with data on the system’s CPU usage and I/O Activity.

 

The CPU Usage report takes the average CPU usage from the past 7 days, then provides a graph of the hourly usage on an average day. You can then see at which times the CPU resources are being hit the most and by how much.

Digging down some more, you can then see which processes utilized the most CPU resources.

 

The Disk I/O Activity report takes the average disk I/O activity from the past 7 days, then provides a graph of the hourly activity on an average day. You can then determine at which times the I/O activity is the highest.

Digging down some more, you can then see which processes utilized the I/O resources the most, plus what processes are causing the most split (extra) I/Os.

 

You can also see which file types have the highest I/O utilization as well as those causing the most split (extra) I/Os.  This can help indicate what files and related processes are causing this type of extra I/O activity.

 

So, if you are trying to see how your system is being used, maybe for performance issues, this report gives you a quick and easy look on how the CPU and Disk I/O resources are being used on your system and what processes and file types are using them. This along with some other Microsoft Utilities, like Task Manager and Performance Monitor can help you tune your system for optimum performance.

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